We are a country that wastes a lot of food. Before you just pitch something into the trash, think about whether it is still safe to use, and how you might re-purpose it.

Don’t Throw that Away!

Grocery Produce Bag Kitchen

We are a country that wastes a lot of food. We throw out food that is perfectly good, and even throw out food that we have purchased but just never used. This is such a waste of our money, of course, and of nutritious food that could be feeding our families. Before you just pitch something into the trash, think about whether it is still safe to use, and how you might re-purpose it.

Let’s first review the notices that are on the food products that we purchase.

Expiration or “Use By” notice means throw the item away if the date has passed.

“Best Used By” date notice means that it is past the peak quality and freshness BUT the food is still safe to eat.

“Sell By” date notice means that the retailers will pull the product from the shelves by this date but can still be safe to eat.

Some foods are unsafe to eat, though. For example:

  • If there is mold on cheeses, there are mold threads that go into the cheese. Not safe.
  • If you have the egg cracked out of the shell and kept in the fridge, it is only safe for two to three days; there is a salmonella risk if held much longer. The egg shell offers protection.
  • Use or freeze ground beef within two days of bringing it home; otherwise throw it in the freezer to deter bacteria growth.

There are many food items that you might pitch – think again. There might be a way to use them in another way or re-purpose them because they are perfectly safe to eat:

  • Soft overripe fruits like plums, peaches, nectarines, apples and pears are great in fruit crisps with an oat topping or cooked into fruit compote.
  • Overripe fruits like bananas or soft strawberries are perfect in smoothies.
  • Soft vegetables like carrots, spinach, kale and celery are good to cook in the crockpot.
  • Save bits and pieces of leftover vegetables throughout the week from each dinner, and store in one container in the freezer. By the weekend you will have enough to add to a soup or stew. Or blend the vegetables and then stir into muffin batter.
  • Before ditching the ketchup or mustard bottles, add ½ cup hot water, shake it up to get all the ketchup/mustard goodness off of the sides of the bottles, and then add to a soup, sloppy joes or stew.

Recipes to try:

__

About the Author

Rita Smith is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She's been working in the field of nutrition and disease prevention for more than 35 years and currently works at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville, Va. Each week, Rita provides nutrition counseling to clients who have a variety of disorders or diseases including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, gastroparesis and weight management. For these clients, food choices can help them manage their health problems.